The Bravest Man in the Universe is not just a meeting of minds, it's also 1960s soul meeting the 21st century. Womack's credentials are nothing short of awesome. This is the man who wrote George Benson's Breezin', recorded Mercedes Benz with Janis Joplin, played guitar on Sly and the Family Stone's Family Affair, on Elvis' Suspicious Minds, on Ray Charles' Heat of the Night, Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man and Aretha's Chain of Fools and Natural Woman. He wrote the Rolling Stones' first US hit It's All Over Now and does back-up vocals on Harlem Shuffle.
Co-produced by Damon Albarn and Richard Russell, this is Womack's first original album since 1994. The combination of the beats and moody soundscape is far removed from Womack's classic recordings, but you can't keep a golden voice down. If anything, it's the contrast in musical styles that make this a sensational album.
This isn't one of those records where you can single out a specific track. It's the overall feel of the voice and musical settings that draw you to it. It's one of those albums that creeps up on you with subsequent airings.
It's been a long time since Bobby Womack was under the spotlight. There's no doubt in my mind that, at 68, he's found a new groove, and the Albarn/Russell collaboration with his voice and recording savvy will keep him in a high profile position for quite a while.
The Bravest Man in the Universe
Rating: 4 / 5 stars